Photo: Easy to spot.

Wat Huay Pla Kung

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A new entry on Chiang Rai’s growing list of unusual temples, the surreal Wat Huay Pla Kung certainly merits a ranking close to the top.

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The main feature—which you can spot from a long way off—is a giant statue of the Bodhisattva Guan (or Kuan) Yin. Often confused with Buddha by passing tourists she’s also known in English as the Goddess of Mercy or Compassion and is an important deity in the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon and thus highly venerated by both resident and visiting Chinese.

Echoes of Chiang Rai’s other white temple. Photo taken in or around Wat Huay Pla Kung, Chiang Rai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Echoes of Chiang Rai’s other white temple. Photo: Mark Ord

This shining, pure white image atop an artificial hill is seated on a lotus flower which forms the entrance and ground floor. Above this and accessible by a high-speed elevator are no less than 26 storeys. If the exterior isn’t surreal enough the interior definitely is beginning with the bright red-uniformed lift attendants. Every inch of wall is covered with the kind of intricate icing-sugar stucco work inspired by Wat Rong Khun and which seems to be increasingly becoming a Chiang Rai signature architectural style.

The lift (entrance to the temple is free but you pay 40 baht if you don’t want to walk up) whisks you up to the 25th floor from where a flight of steps leads you up one more level to the viewing floor. It’s enclosed and views are through windows amid the stucco as you’re actually looking through holes in Guan Yin’s head. (If we calculated correctly floor 25 is eye-level and 26 the head.) Views from the windows are spectacular as are those of the interior where again white-coloured stucco images of Buddhist scenes, myths and figures cover all available ... Travelfish members only (Around 400 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
Not surprisingly this skyscraper-sized statue is visible from a long way off but the easiest access from town is to take the Mae Fah Luang Bridge and look out for a signposted left turn a short while after. It’s the same turning as Ruam Mit. Passing Tham Tupu you’ll reach a T-junction with Tham Phra indicated to the left and Wat Huay Pla Kung a short distance on the right. Easy cycling distance but no public transport access that we found so you’d have to negotiate hard with a tuk tuk to get anything less than a 500 baht return.

Wat Huay Pla Kung
553 Moo 3, Rimkok district
Mo–Su: 07:00–18:00
T: (089) 851 5127 
Admission: Entrance free and elevator 40 baht per person return

Location map for Wat Huay Pla Kung

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